It’s a Monday night after a big weekend. I’m in bed and I can’t sleep to save my life. I’ve tried all the music tracks; rain drops, random voices and the ocean. I’ve done my breathing and meditation. And, sleeping pills are simply not an option. Sound familiar?
I know not to drink caffeine before bed, and electronics in the bedroom are a big no no. I light a bedside candle, and the scent gets me thinking. How about essential oils? Do they work? How do they work? Who should we trust? Below I share some insight into which single origin and blended oils have helped me slow down and better my sleep.
From Tisserand Aromatherapy’s Bergamot essential oil to This Works’s naturally blended spray, these sleep aid products are certainly worth a try.
Read more: The best earplugs for sleeping
Which essential oils help sleep?
Before I reveal your next match made in heaven, it is important to note that the best oils fall under two groups: essential oils for sleep and congestion that alleviate snoring and clear the airways, and essential oils for sleep apnea that calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
The use of essential oils isn’t just a recent social media craze. Our ancestors have been using these as alternative medicinal products for decades. Research shows aromatherapy using essential oils and harnessing our sense of smell can be used to cure many things, but for the purpose of sleep, it has been proven to ease mild sleep problems, improve our quality of sleep and provide relief.
How? Scientists believe that by absorbing certain essential oils through the skin or inhaling the molecules activates the chemicals in our brain that control sleep. Research also shows that essential oils can relieve stress and act as a complementary therapy to people who are anxious. This is because when our mind is going a million miles a minute, it is no wonder that we have trouble falling asleep.
Similar to finding your signature scent, choosing the right essential oil that sends you straight to sleep may include some trial and error. And, if you’re anything like me - indecisive and overwhelmed with too much choice - these are the main ingredients to look out for…
Lavender – Light floral; relaxes you by slowing down the nervous system and heart rate, increasing slow-wave sleep and leaving you to feel more energised the next morning
Chamomile – Soft and sweet; common herbal medicine for depression, reducing sadness, stress and anxiousness
Sweet Marjoram – Spicy mint; its calming qualities relax the brain and ease the body to sleep
Eucalyptus – Fresh and citrusy; its natural decongesting qualities helps to unblock sinuses and ease breathing, reducing restlessness and making you snore less
Ylang-Ylang – Tropical and rich floral; its soothing qualities relieves stress and anxiousness
Frankincense – Sweet and woody; its precious and aromatherapeutic qualities relieves stress and promotes relaxation
Neroli – Floral and clean; its hypnotic and soothing qualities relax the mind and lower the blood pressure, reducing feelings of grief, agitation and despair
Bergamot – Fruity and sweet; its calming and purifying qualities lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, however, can be photosensitive so avoid applying it if you plan to go outside
Lemon – Fruity and clean; calms the mind and lowers the heart rate, boosting your serotonin levels and leaving you to feel happy the next morning
Clary Sage – Herbaceous and leathery; its natural sedative and antidepressant qualities reduces stress and levels of hormone cortisol
Geranium – Rose with a lemon twist; its sedative qualities can reduce stress and help you to stay asleep
Jasmine – Sensual and rich; improves the quality of sleep by reducing anxiousness, leaving you to feel more refreshed the next morning
Valerian – Sweet rose; known for the breakdown of the GABA neurotransmitter, its sleep-inducing qualities lowers anxiousness and encourages deep sleep
Sandalwood – Woody and earthy; its sedative qualities reduce wakefulness and relieves stress and anxiousness
Cedarwood – Sweet and earthy; its sedative qualities relieve tension, reduces muscle pain, leaving you to feel more uplifted the next morning
Peppermint – Intense menthol; its anti-inflammatory qualities help to clear the airways, making you snore less and feel less stressed
Vanilla – Cosy and nostalgic; calms the mind, eases breathing and reduces the startle reflex
Not only do these ingredients smell nice, but they all play a special part in enhancing your sleeping experience. Not to mention, highly recommended for bedtime routines in training the mind to associate a scent with the behaviour of falling asleep.
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Single Origin Essential Oils for Sleep
1. Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil
This 100% therapeutic grade lavender essential oil by Plant Therapy is a high-quality must-have sleeping staple. With lavender oil being widely recognised as an effective natural deep-wave sleep remedy, this pure undiluted product will get you to sleep in no time. Not too weak or strong, this balanced essential oil gives off a heavenly traditional English herbaceous-floral scent and is extremely versatile when it comes to blending with other sleeping oils. Kid-safe and a fast delivery, spend a little more and you will feel a wave of calm over your entire body.
2. Tisserand Aromatherapy Bergamot Essential Oil
Tisserand Aromatherapy is another all-time favourite brand for high quality vegan and organic essential oils. This Bergamot product played its part in the brand's 2019 and 2020 wins at the Beauty shortlist Wellbeing Awards for being the best aromatherapy brand, and I can understand why. Not only does it have a beautiful natural fruity scent, but the essential oil holds its strong smell for hours. If you're willing to up your budget, this is a product worth trying if you are having difficulties falling asleep.
3. Ecodrop Marjoram Essential Oil
If you're one who takes pride in not only the product but the company itself, Ecodrop is a London based brand whose main motive is to disrupt the beauty industry through their eco-consciousness and sustainable motives. With no additives or preservatives, this 100% pure Egyptian Therapeutic Grade Marjoram essential oil is as fine as it gets. When you buy the product, Ecodrop provide you with a free E-Book outlining all benefits and home remedies. As well as a How to Use Essential Oil guide which makes this affordable product a multi-functional aromatherapeutic solution across the board.
4. Handcraft Frankincense Essential Oil
Being rated the number one best seller by Amazon in Facial Oils, this Handcraft Frankincense essential oil is a value for money pure and natural product. It is 100% Premium Therapeutic Grade and comes with a handy glass dropper. Frankincense originating from the French term "franc encens", this essential oil promotes feelings of satisfaction peace and relaxation. Along with its anti-inflammatory benefits, the product is true to its scent and blends well with other aromatherapeutic essential oils.
5. Mystic Moments Ylang Ylang 3rd Essential Oil
Mystic Moments is another trusted brand for aromatherapy using oils. If you are a fan of Ylang Ylang, this essential oil is a powerful sleep aid with anti-infectious and antiseptic benefits. Being 100% pure, you only need a couple of drops and it will last for hours. This rich Ylang Ylang product is extremely effective in relieving stress and anxiousness and blends well with many other oils such as citrus, floral, spicy and woodsy oils depending on your preference of scent. It's definitely a high quality (not diluted) reasonably priced essential oil which will do your mind wonders.
Which essential oils go well together?
Although it is good to own single origin essential oils and they certainly come with their benefits, research has shown that blended oils could be more effective in improving sleep. Essential oils are also considered adaptogens which means that depending on the oil blend, they adapt differently to every person and its effect.
Here are some of our favourite essential oil blend products:
Blended Essential Oils for Sleep
1. This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray Blend
It would be rude of me not to include This Work's Deep Sleep Pillow Spray blend to my most recommended sleeping oil remedies. This natural cruelty-free sleep aid helps calm the body, settle nerves, leaving you to wake up feeling more refreshed than ever. With more than six million pillow sprays sold, the product has seen some amazing results, whereby in a recent study, 89% of 200 users fell asleep faster. In return, removing harmful toxins and allowing our skin cells to repair. Read this article if you are interested in other pillow sprays and mists to help you sleep.
2. Neom Organics Perfect Night’s Sleep Essential Oil Diffuser Blend
If there has been any sleeping product to break the internet, Neom Organic's Perfect Night's Sleep Essential Oil blend has done it. Formally known as 'Tranquillity', the complex 100% natural blend is comprised of 19 of the purest essential oils including English Lavender known for its calming and anti-inflammatory qualities, Sweet Basil to help clean sinuses and Jasmine. A 2010 study found Jasmine to have the same effect as a sedative or sleeping pill, minus any side effects. There are also many ways you can apply the sleeping blend, be it in a diffuser pod, bath or combined with a base oil, depending on the occasion.
3. Tisserand Aromatherapy Sleep Better Diffuser Oil Blend
The Sleep Better oil blend by Tisserand Aromatherapy has become Amazon's Choice in Sleep Essential Oils. Winning the 2018 Beauty Shortlist Awards for the best aromatherapy brand, it certainly prides itself on producing quality and effective vegan products. This particular pure blend is made up of Jasmine, Sandalwood and Lavender essential oils, relieving stress and any anxious feelings. The scent is also this beautiful sweet yet earthy balance, so they've absolutely nailed the blend. It's natural. It's glorious. Go check it out for yourself.
4. Gya Labs Stress Relief Essential Oil Diffuser Blend
If you are looking for a superb Stress Relief blend containing Rose Geranium, Ylang-Ylang, Sweet Orange and Lemongrass essential oils, then Gya Labs has got you covered. This is a 100% pure grade diffuser oil perfect for stress relief and to be used before bed. Not only does it have natural decongesting and immune defence qualities but smells divine and can be diffused in a variety of ways. Designed to bid farewell to worry and tension, this sweet floral blend allows you to release uneasy thoughts and helps you find your cool.
5. Vitruvi Essential Diffuser Oil Dusk Blend
The Vitruvi Dusk blend which consists of Ho Wood, Frankincense, Eucalyptus and Lavender is another fantastic blend of essential oils. Inspired by moonlit walks in the desert, this blend works best as the sun is setting or before bedtime. Simply all you need to add is 15 drops (yes that sounds like a lot but it's true) to a diffuser and the benefits will slowly start to roll in. This romantic blend is 100% pure, non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free. Vitruvi also has an extensive knowledge in botanicals and traditional blending methods, ensuring all products are sophisticated and naturally scented.
6. Aesop Anouk Diffuser Oil Burner Blend
For my final diffuser essential oil option, I thought I would include a burner blend. This Aesop Anouk sleep aid is comprised of floral citrus aromas; the perfect antidote to stress and hurriedness. The main ingredients involve Lemon Rind, Ylang Ylang and Bergamot Ring, which makes it into this sweet tropical yet clean scent, leaving you feel calm and purified. It also boosts your serotonin levels, keeping you happy the next morning. It is however on the expensive side, but when paired with a beautiful oil burner, it may just be worth the investment for better sleep.
The use of essential oil diffusers is another popular option for troubled sleepers in need of some therapeutic sleeping aid. Read this article for more information on the best aromatherapy diffusers.
How to use essential oils for sleep
There are many questions surrounding how to use essential oils before bedtime, such as; ‘where to apply essential oils for sleep’ and ‘are essential oils bad for skin’? The safest plan of action would be to carefully read the instructions on the given product before using it, as every product above has a recommended usage amount depending on its composition.
If it is a certified aromatherapy brand or a product which is either ‘100% pure’ or has a ‘Premium Therapeutic Grade’ label, meaning it is toxin free, then there will always be a set of instructions. Avoid products that are called ‘perfume oil’ or ‘fragrance oil’ as these often contain synthetic ingredients and aren’t as effective.
Generally, the usual procedure whether pure or blended would require either a diffuser, a burner or a complementary base oil. Before applying any essential oil topically (be it on your pressure points or during a massage), be sure to dilute your chosen essential oil with a carrier (base) oil. Otherwise applying undiluted essential oils could irritate the skin.
Common carrier oils include jojoba, coconut, grapeseed and olive oils. For every one drop of essential oil, you should add 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil. Topical application is recommended though as then the oils will permeate your skin, meaning you will not only be able to smell them, but they will enter your bloodstream quicker. If, however you are prone to sensitive skin or allergies, avoid applying topically and diffuse the essential oil. Another option is to add two or three drops of these oils to a diffuser which will slowly ignite your therapeutic bedtime bubble. If you don’t want your diffuser left flowing, you can apply a few drops to your pillowcase.
Are essential oils safe?
Short answer yes, if you take the recommended precautions. Longer answer, if you haven’t used essential oils before, I would recommend consulting with your doctor first. There are many factors, such as; medications you’re taking or sensitive skin that may not be a suitable match. Once getting the thumbs up, choose brands and products like the ones listed above that are credible. Other simple tips would be to do small patch tests (under the arm) before using these essential oils across large areas of the body or dilute them. If all OK after 24 hours, then you’re good to go!